Mendoza Trip Report #1 – IAD-MIA

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Packing for this trip was more challenging than I thought it would be. I was going to be gone for over a week in cooler weather, I’d be staying at nice hotels and eating at nice restaurants, and I didn’t want to check a bag. Can you guess which of the four doesn’t belong?

Somehow I managed to cram everything into my carryon rollerboard without using the extender and I could still lift it. I was cranky but the trip was off to a good start!

Almost.  The upgrades on our United flight didn’t clear in advance, and when I checked in online, I got a message I’d never seen before. I was the only one eligible for complimentary upgrades and if I wanted to be considered, my traveling companion might be moved to a separate reservation. That wouldn’t have been the end of the world, but I didn’t think a glass of airplane wine and a snack box was worth the risk if our flight was cancelled and we didn’t both have 1K priority. So I sucked it up, declined the upgrade and printed out our boarding passes.

We arrived at Dulles for the first flight with just enough time to stop by the Red Carpet Club (less than one month left to enjoy Star Alliance club access with my BMI Gold card) for some water and to pick up an application for the new Mileage Plus United Club Card. I’d heard that applications in the lounge waived the first year fee of $395, and sure enough, they do.

The Thursday evening flight to Miami was tiny full, but seemed to have few elite passengers. The upgrade list was only 15 people out of a flight of 45+ passengers. This of course, did nothing to make me happy, since it would have been likely that I would have cleared at the gate if I hadn’t had to decline the upgrade. Grrr.

The service on the flight was one of the best I’ve experienced on a domestic flight in a long time. They brought the beverage cart around. Then 10 minutes later came by to offer refills. Then every 15 min or so for the next hour they came by offering water. Impressive for a two hour flight.

We landed a little early, so considered grabbing dinner at the airport rather than waiting til we arrived the Miami Element. A little research had shown there was no on-site restaurant at the hotel and we were both in the mood for a real meal. It became clear walking through the terminal we weren’t going to get it at the airport – everything was shut down by 9PM.

So if you’re catching a late night connection out of Miami, be sure to eat before you land at the airport. Otherwise your only choice is going to be the Top of the Port panoramic restaurant in the adjacent hotel.

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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world.


  1. Pingback: Mendoza Trip Report #5 — SCL-MDZ

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